37. Cher: The Power of Resilience
My guest today is a self-taught engineer currently working as a Principal Software Engineer at Apple. With 20 years of experience in web development, she attributes her skills and success to being “passionately curious”. She has a deep affinity for gaming and is a published video game journalist.
Her journey started when she was in middle school when her mom worked as an office administrator and brought home computer parts. Cher quickly became fascinated in taking things apart and putting them back together again.
She faced abuse and addiction early on in life and eventually dropped out of high school. She soon started doing sex work and stripping. It felt as though no matter where she went, that was her story. At that point, it felt entirely impossible that she was ever going to become a scientist or an architect and decided that if she was going to be used for sex anyway, she might as well be paid for it and do porn. She managed to escape that situation but as a result, she tried to end her own life and ended up spending 6 weeks in a mental institution.
Cher eventually got pregnant, which helped her stop using drugs and stripping. In need of a job, she applied for a front end developer role and landed one because, throughout all of these hard times, she had been tinkering and building live journal templates and had become the second google result for “front end developer” in 2006.
We discuss the sexism she faced when she started doing freelance work and quickly learned that clients did not trust or believe her to be both the designer AND the engineer. So instead had to pretend she wasn’t doing the backend work when she really was.
Cher couldn’t afford a lot of data for her phone plan and so developed a lot of opinions about mobile development and soon became a leader in that up and coming space. Because of that expertise, USA Today took an interest in her, and although she did not know how to whiteboard and flopped the interview, she demonstrated her passion and willingness to learn, and thus they took a chance on her and she got her big break.
She went on to work at many different companies as a software developer and at Apple today, she is paid fairly and the end of her poverty debt is near! Over the past 20 years, she has learned the power of grit and resilience. She has had to navigate so many difficult life situations to survive. She brings the lessons she learned from those challenges and is capable of zooming out and seeing things from a broader perspective with the resolve that she is capable of solving any problem.
Her life and story is beyond inspiring. It is packed with wisdom, advice, and an incredibly beautiful story of overcoming life’s largest obstacles. This episode is genuinely not one to miss!
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